Theories of State Functions

Theories of State Functions. The final purpose of political philosophy is to determine the essential nature of political authority, the relation in which the individual stands to the state, and how states stand to one another. Accordingly, theories of state function cannot be entirely separated from those of state organization.

The question of what the state should do depends largely upon who controls the state and how effectively it is organized to accomplish the desired purposes. On the other hand, the question of how the state should be organized depends largely upon what the state expands to accomplish.

Functions that may be satisfactorily performed by some states might be undesirable if attempted by others. Forms of government suited to one people, who have certain needs which the state is expected to meet, would be entirely suitable to other peoples, with different problems.

Similarly, there is a close connection between the state’s activities about its citizens and its activities related to its citizens and its activity in its relations to other states. A country laced with difficult international problems or whose existence is threatened by a powerful enemy may yet be compelled to control and discipline its own people in its tray ma would not be necessary for a state whose external relations were untroubled.

In this chapter, attention will be given to the main theories that have been put forward concerning the proper scope of a state function, especially in its internal aspects. The main problem involved in the state’s relation to the individuals composing it and the degree to which the state should restrict the freedom of individual action or should itself act to promote what it considers the general welfare. These theories mow wide variation, ranging from the Point of View of the anarchists at one extreme to that of the state socialists at the other.

The former denies the state’s necessity; the latter would extend its activities to the maximum extent. Between these extremes are all shades of opinion, varying from the individualists, who would limit the state to essential functions only or would permit only a narrow range of optional functions to those who would permit a considerable degree of state regulation and of positive action for the promotion of the common welfare, in conclusion, some attention will be given to certain theories that have appeared in recent years and that have been given practical application in several modern states. These theories are concerned with the problems both of organization and function.


The simplest solution to a state function’s problem is that of the anarchists, who would abolish the State entirely. They aim to combine the ideals of individualism and socialism, the two great currents of nineteenth-century axial Worm. From the former, they derive their dislike of the state and their enthusiasm for individual initiative. From the latter drive: their hatred of private property and their hell that workers are being exploited individualistic anarchists place property rights in the individual and leave him free to your in Minions or not, as he chooses.

Communistic anarchists place and property rights in the hands of voluntary social groups and emphasize humanity’s welfare rather than that of the individual. Anarchists agree in opposing the use of coercive authority and carrying the doctrine of individual freedom to extreme lengths.

They would destroy the state and replace it with voluntary associations resting on the continuing agreement of those composing it. The only government that they would permit would be that to which men freely give their consent. Modern states, they believe, are corrupt and tyrannical, conducted in the interests of privileged classes, and repressive over large and dissatisfied groups. They deny any person’s right or any association to rule over any individual against his will. They aim at justice and freedom and believe that the State’s forcible authority is never justified.

Anarchists are not in agreement as to the methods by which the state should be overthrown or the nature of the social and economic regime which would follow the abolition of political authority. Revolutionary anarchists believe that the existing governmental system should be resisted in every way and should be destroyed by violence. They advocate assassination and destruction, arguing that direct action alone can accomplish their purpose.

Philosophical anarchists hold that the state may be gradually weakened and finally destroyed by peaceful persuasion, the effect of which will increase as man becomes more enlightened intellectually. They are confident that human society is evolving toward a condition in which coercive political authority will no longer be needed and will disappear.

There is also a divergence of opinion among anarchists about how economic goods should be held and distributed, though in general, they Oppose private property as leading to inequalities that destroy individual freedom. Anarchism is primarily a destructive and critical theory. Those who have outlined constructive programs are not in agreement with the nature of the system that should replace the state. In general, they favor a series of voluntary associations, which men may join it they will and from which they are free to withdraw.

These associations would arm the few essential functions of government, such as maintaining order and enforcing contracts and would offer their crevices to those who needed their aid or protection. Such a system, they believe, is superior because it abolishes coercive authority and rests on the principle of sell government. It opposes the state’s theory, in which membership is compulsory, and the use of force administers the law.

The difficulties involved in such a system are evident. The form of the social organization proposed would be wholly inadequate to deal with the modern world’s complex problems. Its successful working would demand intelligence and unselfishness far beyond that ever attained by any group of imperfect human beings.

Moreover, the anarchists believe that authority and liberty are contradictory and that freedom can be secured by abolishing law and government. If authority is destroyed, the result is not perfect freedom for all but the strong’s tyranny over the weak.

History teaches that civilization, order, and peace are accomplished only by placing restraints upon individuals’ unlimited freedom. If the present type of state were destroyed as the anarchists desire, their social organization would soon develop into a state. Only the form of government would be changed, and the use of restraint and force would again be necessary.

Some form of law and government is an absolute necessity among civilized men, in so far as the anarchists point out evils in the present political organization of the world. Their theory is valuable, but their own doctrines are based on false assumptions, and the solution they propose would be ineffective and impossible.


Unlike the anarchist, the individualist considers the state a necessity, though he views it as an evil, whose activities should be kept within the narrowest possible bounds. It is necessary only because of humanity’s imperfections, and its sole duty is to protect the life, liberty, and property of individuals from violence or fraud.

The individualist  Consider every extension of the state’s power as a restriction of the sphere of individual freedom. The state is therefore justified in interference only for the purpose only or the purpose of protecting its Citizens from interference on the part of other citizens. It is not justified in further activity, even for purposes admittedly beneficial.

Its duty is to restrain and protect against selfish or thoughtless persons, not to take positive action to promote the general good. This view is frequently accompanied by the lief that as the sense of order and morality becomes more advanced, the need for state action will diminish and that the ideal condition would be that in which the state no huge exists because no longer needed.

Individualists are not in agreement as to the exact functions which the State should undertake. In its extreme form, the doctrine approaches that of the anarchists. On the other hand, then are many thinkers who, while placing chief emphasis on the individual’s rights and the lull development of his powers, believe that this can be best accomplished in some cases by state regulation and even by a limited amount of direct state action.

They believe that the state is justified not only in maintaining its own existence and protecting the life, liberty, and property of its citizens but also in undertaking such other functions as, under existing conditions, may be conducive to the general welfare.

While resting on an individualistic basis, this point of view is modified by utilitarian and opportunistic considerations. It holds that the exercise of each function by the state must be determined by its results in promoting individuals’ best interests and society. In this form, the theory may be gradually modified toward the socialistic point of view.

The doctrine of individualism came into prominence in the latter part of the eighteenth century as a reaction against the evils of governmental interference of that period and as a result of the prevailing belief in natural law in the political, econ mic, and biological world, which should be allowed to work itself out without man’s interference. It served as a basis for the democratic revolutionary movements, the physiocrats’ economic doctrines, and the free-traders.

By the middle of the nineteenth century, the individualist theory had been seriously undermined by the growth of socialistic ideas and the reform movements that demanded state action. The theory of individualism assumed somewhat different aspects as it was viewed in its ethical, political, economic, or scientific aspects. Still, all of the arguments were drawn favoring individual freedom and restricted state activity.

1. Ethical :

Abstract conceptions of justice and natural law based on right reason were used to support the theory of individualism. From this point of view, it was argued that each man knew his own interests best and that the individual should be let alone to develop his own powers and to realize the purpose of his existence. Restriction upon his freedom destroyed his self-reliance and initiative, weakened his character, and limited his possibilities of development. Over government tended to crush individuality and to reduce men to a level of mediocre uniformity. Freedom alone enabled men to develop their faculties, strengthen their character, and achieve their highest civilization Men were naturally free. They had inherent rights that should be respected. Restrictions upon freedom resulted only in evil.

2. Political:

The political doctrine of individualism arose from the social-contract theory used to attack the theory of divine right in the contest between monarchy and democracy. The kings of the eighteenth century asserted that they were the agents of God on earth. As such, they could do no wrong, and they assumed the statewide and paternalistic powers of regulation and control over the actions of their peoples.

The opponents of monarchy naturally wished to weaken the power of the system that they were attacking. Viewing the exercise of extensive governmental authority by an irresponsible monarch as evil, they were led to regard all authority is evil.

They placed their emphasis on the individual and his rights, not on the state and its powers. According to their doctrine, men were originally free and equal, possessing certain natural rights—the state Will there deliberate and artificial creation utilizing an agreement or compact, among themselves.

The purpose of the state was to protect and guarantee the rights of individuals. Accordingly, its functions should be limited to this negative purpose. Any extension of its authority beyond this field was a violation of the contract between people and government from which the letter drew its existence and authority.

Any interference with their natural right justified the people in resisting tyrannical or usurping state authority. Democracy and individualism arose together. Men desired to govern themselves. But they also wanted as little government as possible. They believed that the best government intent is that which governs least.

Once democracy was in the saddle, however, the attitude of the masses changed. Political power in the hands of the people was viewed with more labor than power in a king’s hands or a privileged class. The people were willing to trust large powers to a government that they believed they controlled as the nineteenth century progressed. Rousseau’s theory of popular sovereignty and general will serve as a basis for a rapid expansion of state activities to promote the general welfare.

By the close of the century, socialism claimed to represent the democratic incitement, and the purple who a century earlier had feared government and wished to limit its activities to a minimum were clamoring for legislation involving a wide exercise oi the powers of state regulation and state action to further social ends.

Accordingly, a modern supporter of individualism represents, to some extent, a reaction against the extreme theories of equality and democracy. They view the problem not from the standpoint of philosophic concepts of abstract justice or natural rights but a practical standpoint of the actual results no accomplished by state action. They doubt the modern state’s competency to judge wisely the needs of society or provide for them.

They point out the inefficiency and extravagance of government, its officials’ incompetence, the red tape in its procedure, and the delay in its action. Many persons believe that the state is already overburdened with duties that it is ill-fitted to perform and a marked tendency toward over legislation. They believe that many functions would be better accomplished if left to private initiative, which has a more direct interest in the matter concerned and is more likely to be progressive and enterprising.

They hold history and experience, teach that attempts by the state to legislate concerning the details of social and economic life fail in their purpose and act as obstacles to progress. The individualist attitude is upheld today by certain interests that wish to escape government regulation, by many persons who Oppose governmental interference with their private lives and habits, by conservatives who fear the extension of socialist doctrines and practices, and by many thoughtful believers in a democracy who fear that it will destroy itself by attempting more than it can accomplish.

3. Economic:

As an economic principle, individualism is based on the argument that free competition and unrestricted industry and commerce are more profitable than economic activities under government regulation or operation. This laissez-faire doctrine arose as a protest against the mercantile system of early modern states, with its paternalistic attitude toward industry and trade, and its purpose of increasing the national wealth, protecting home manufacturers, and securing a favorable balance of foreign trade.

Under this system, national greatness, economic self-sufficiency, and a full treasury were aimed at, rather than individual citizens’ welfare. In the second half of the eighteenth century, the regulations and restrictions of the paternalistic governments had become increasingly burdensome, especially as economic conditions were changing and the doctrine of natural law and natural rights was applied to support the principle that the individual should exercise his economic activities with the least possible interference from the state. A “natural order” was believed to exist, whose arrangements were perfect, in contrast to the “positive order” whose laws were the human and imperfect rules of existing governments.

This natural order, it was held, should be allowed to work itself out in the economic world without interference from the state; enlightened self-interest would best realize both individual and public welfare.

This point of view, the opposite of mercantilism, was worked out by the physiocrats in France and by the school of writers that accompanied the Industrial Revolution and centered around Adam Smith in England. In France, the chief attention was given to the encouragement of agriculture in England to unrestricted foreign trade.

In the latter country, machine production was replacing hand labor. The factory system Was destroying the restricted, domestic type of production, and transportation and commerce were undergoing rapid changes; England no longer feared competition, as she was able to produce manufactured goods more cheaply than her rivals. On the Other hand, she was compelled to import food and raw materials, which she wished to buy in the cheapest markets.

Consequently, the existing government regulation system, based on the conditions that existed before the industrial changes, grew steadily out of harmony with the new conditions and with England’s economic interests. The economists argued that the free movement of capital, the free adjustment of prices based on supply and demand, and the free movement of trade from place to place would lead to the best economic adjustment by working natural economic laws.

Unrestricted competition would stimulate production, keep wages and prices at their normal level, prevent excessive interest rates, increase national wealth, and promote individual and social welfare. These doctrines led to the repeal of many statutes regulating the labor industry and commerce. In the tint half of the nineteenth century, they gave an impetus to the free-trade movement in Europe and America. Private enterprise was encouraged, and state bounties and state-protected monopolies were destroyed.

Later, the evils grew out of unrestricted competition, especially as they affected the laboring classes. The obvious advantages of combination and the need for its regulation led to a renewed demand for economic legislation. Likewise, the competition among states for markets and the desire to develop their industry and to secure increased revenue led to a return to the system of protective tariffs. At present, the economic theory of individualism has been largely replaced by socialistic doctrines that justify extensive state action, and a huge part of modern legislation deals with economic questions.

4. Scientific:

Some of the supporters of individualism argued that it was in harmony with the biologic theory of evolution. Nature’s process was one of a struggle for existence, resulting in the survival of the fittest. The result of this process was believed to progress. Accordingly, interference by state action would impede natural development and harm. Individuals should work out their destiny without governmental aid or control so that the lit should survive, the unlit be eliminated, and society’s best interests are furthered. Led by Herbert Spencer, this group of thinkers wished to limit the state, as one of society’s organs, to the performance of its essential functions only.

The government was a necessary evil, whose activities would diminish in scope as civilization developed, and all extensions of state action led to injurious consequences.

In applying the biologic analogy, upholders of individualism fail to consider the essential difference between humanity and the lower life forms. While the latter are at the mercy of their environment and are transformed by it, man changes his environment and controls his own development to a large extent. To some extent, he may avoid the injustice and waste that the process of natural selection otherwise necessitates.

Besides, since the fittest’s survival means only the fittest under given circumstances and not necessarily the survival of the best, as judged by any rational standard, man, by improving his conditions and directing his course of evolution, may make the fittest a far more desirable type.

Natural evolution results in retrogression as well as in progress. Hence collective activity, instead of being an interference with a beneficent law, may remove the Waste of competition, hasten progress, and make possible a higher type of individual and society.

In conclusion, the postulates of individualism may be stated as follows: Self-interest is a universal principle in human nature. In the long run, each individual knows his own interests best and, in the absence of arbitrary restrictions, is sure to follow them.

If external restraint is removed, the free competition will result. Such free competition always develops the highest human possibilities by enabling each individual to do that for which he is best fitted, by eliminating unfit elements and advancing the welfare of all.

Government and liberty are viewed as contradictory terms, and every assumption of authority by the State is considered an infringement upon individual freedom. From these premises, it is argued that men have a right to be let alone, that it pays to let them alone, and that state action, beyond a narrow and necessary range of functions, is always injurious.

Against these arguments, it may be stated that altruism, as well as self~interest, is a motive in human action and that in some cases, the persons concerned do not know their own interests and must be protected by collective action. Competition does not persist unless the competitors are comparatively equal in strength. By checking the aggression of the stronger, frequent governmental interference makes competition possible instead of destroying it.

Collective activity may also prevent the slow and wasteful action of natural evolution when this produces undesirable results in human affairs or may bring its desirable features into operation if some impeding cause has interfered. History shows that the state is not always evil, but that much human progress has resulted from wise state action. Its function is not merely that of repressive regulation; it may also foster and promote the general good.

Over government may be evil, but the government in itself is not only a necessity but may be a positive good. Instead of destroying freedom, the authority of the state is necessary to create and to protect it. The rights of all are widened by wise restrictions upon the free actions of each. While useful in emphasizing the value of free door and self-reliance and the injurious effects of excessive state interference, the theory of individualism does not furnish, under-modern conditions, a satisfactory basis for state functions.

As civilization progresses, men become increasingly dependent upon me another, and all indications point to growing demands for state action. Control and regulation are necessary in the complex life of the modern world.

State Regulation:

The theory of state regulation occupies an intermediate ground between that which desires a minimum and desires a maximum state activity. It believes that, for many purposes, the individual should be free from state control. It favors, in general, the private ownership of property and the private control of the business. At the same time, it places first the whole people’s welfare and realizes that a considerable degree of state interference and regulation may be needed to accomplish this end.

Depending upon the social and economic conditions that exist, it justifies state ownership and operation of such business as cannot be safely left in private hands or more effectively managed by public control. It approves such legislation as is needed to regulate the lives and activities of the people, and the use and management of their property, for the general good. It aims to protect all classes in the state against injustice and exploitation.

The extent of state interference may vary as conditions change, but in each case, state interference is to be judged by its results. This theory underlies the United States’ governmental activities and, with stronger socialistic tendencies, in Great Britain. Because of the growing complexity of modern life, and because of the increasing demand of the people for legislation in the public interest, the past century’s tendency has been toward more extensive state regulation under this theory.


Opposed to the theory of individualism stands a group of doctrines that favor collective control and a wide extension of public activities. While believing in individual Freedom, these theories’ supporters hold that it can be better secured under social regulation than by unrestricted individual competition. They believe that production instruments should be owned and operated and their products distributed by the organized community. State socialists would organism the community as a political body make. The owner and manager of land, capital, and production mean and extend its activities to all undertakings that would promote equality and social welfare.

They expand the government’s activities not to increase the importance of the state but because they believe that only can each individual be assured of justice and freedom. In most cases, they propose radical alterations in the state’s organization and view it as a fraternal, Cooperative commonwealth rather than as a paternal, political Unit. On the other hand, the communists look forward to the state’s disappearance, which they associate with the capitalist system.

Their ideal is that the whole body of the people, organized for productive purposes, but not armed with legal coercive power, should own and operate the means of production. Extreme communists would abolish private property not only inland and the means of production but in all things. In general, state socialists look to the gradual and peaceful introduction of their system communists usually favor revolutionary action. The working classes will take over control of society’s political organization.

This revolution would be the creation of a new type of social organization, the state in a new form and under a different name. All socialist theories would enormously expand the activities of whatever system of social organization they propose to create.

The theory of socialism is not new. Among primitive peoples, much property was held in common, and the people’s lives were under extensive regulation. Ancient Sparta was organized under a strict regime of state socialism. The doctrines of the early Christian church contained many socialistic elements. The medieval system of landholding and that of trade guilds and the monastic orders’ practices contained traces of the same idea.

The peasant revolts that followed the Protestant Reformation were distinctly socialistic in nature. Many great thinkers have proposed idealistic social reconstruction schemes along the socialist line since the time of Plato. In the early years of the nineteenth century, numerous proposals were put forward for social and economic reconstruction. They were followed by the establishment of communities in which socialist experiments were put into practice.

Many of these reforms looked to the state to give general application to their proposals. Modem socialism is based largely on the doctrines of Kart Marx. It claims to be scientific in that it is based on an analysis and understanding of industrial society’s true nature, which the earlier socialists lacked.

Marx believed that men’s actions at all times were dominated by economic motives, which determined the nature of the social and political organization, also that there has been a constant struggle between economic classes and that the class which secures economic power organizes and controls the state to protect and advance its own interests. History is a record of this class struggle. All wealth, Marx believed, was produced by labor, but only a part of it was secured by the laborers who produced it.

In the form of surplus-value, the remainder was appropriated by the capitalist class, who exploited the laborers. Capital tended to be concentrated in the hands of a few. The proletariat constantly increased in numbers. As the workers became conscious of their power, they would unite as a class, wrest power from the propertied class, establish common ownership and operation of the means of production, do away with private profits, and distribute the entire labor product among the workers who created it.

While Marx believed that an inevitable law operated in historical development, he also taught that the exploited class should exert itself to hasten the transition from one economic stage to the next. This tradition was usually marked by violence on the part of the oppressed hence history was a series of revolutions. According to Marx, each economic class in power creates the forces which ultimately destroy it. The overthrow comes by revolutionary action on the new class, which comes into economic and political power—the next stage in history.

I would see capitalism replaced by communism. The workers would seize political power and use the state to bring the communist regime into operation. Once this Was accomplished, however, the state’s need would disappear, and nonpolitical organs for the direction and control of the production and distribution of economic goods would be created.

Class distinctions would be destroyed; all would-be workers and the class struggles would come to an end. Political powers, Marx believed, were the organized power of one class to oppress another. If there were no ruling class, there would be established an association in which the free development of each is the condition for the free development of all. Workingmen of all countries were urged to unite, and the movement was given an international basis.

From these doctrines, modern socialist movements started. Some look forward to socialism as an ideal to be realized by gradually extending governmental functions and increasing public control over great industrial combinations. They are willing to use the state and to accomplish their reforms step by step. Others oppose any compromise and favor an uprising of the masses, establishing a socialist system by overthrowing existing governments and confiscating property in private hands.

Some believe that this may be accomplished peacefully and voluntarily because of a general recognition of the present system’s evils; others believe that a violent revolution alone can accomplish their purpose. Neither are socialists who agreed to distribute income among the members of a socialist society. Some believe that, under the economies and improved socialism production, the distribution would present no difficulty because of the abundance of wealth.

Others recommend that everything he held in common, each producing according to his capacity and receiving according to his need. Another group advocates equality of wages, sometimes with the proviso that all persons perform equal amounts of labor, according to a system of labor-time units, based on the attractiveness or repulsive nest of the occupation. Others would allow officials, chosen by the workers, to respond to them, assign laborers to their duties when necessary, and arrange wages.

In general, the socialist theory has been critical rather than constructive and has given little attention to society’s structural organization that is to replace the existing state. The present political state, the socialists believe, is based on force and exists to protect the economic interests of capitalists. Their system, however, would require an elaborate organization or the purpose of carrying on production scientifically and rationally and for distributing the proceeds among the workers.

The functions performed by this organization would be more elaborate than those performed by the governments they oppose. They argue, however, that political power would not be needed, since the aim of the socialist organization would be the advancement of the interests of the entire society composed of a single class that its directions would be voluntarily obeyed by all, so that obedience would not need to be enforced and that those who operate the machinery would not constitute a governing class, but would be workers performing public functions as a part of the unified community. Police and courts would not be needed if there were no laws imposed upon men by an authority above their control. Military force would not be needed if the world were organized as an international unit.

Among other advantages, it is asserted that socialism would remedy the wastefulness and the injustice in the existing economic system. Its supporters believe that, under scientific and rational control, the community’s economic needs could be accurately estimated and the available land labor and capital apportioned so that the necessary quantity of each kind of goods would be produced.

Unnecessary competition and duplication Would be prevented, the expenses of advertising and competitive selling would be avoided, and the production of harmful goods would be forbidden. The resultant saving in productive power could be applied either to increase the number of goods produced or to shorten labor hours or both. The present system of haphazard competitive production and selling believe to be extravagant and wasteful, to rank in low wages and unemployment. Under a regulated cooperative system, these evils would disappear.

The inequalities of wealth and opportunity under the capitalist system are particularly repugnant to socialists. They argue that, under private ownership of land and the increasing use of machinery and combination of capital, the labor unable to apply himself directly to the means of production, must make a forced bargain with landlord or capitalist, that under this system the laborer receives far less than his proper share of the product since landlords and capitalists receive enormous and Undeserved rent, interest, and profits Speculators and intermediaries further reduce the laborer’s share.

They believe that land and accumulated capital should belong to all, not to a privileged few, and that income should be equalized by protecting the weak against exploitation. Society, they believe, is an organic unit, and the welfare of all is more important than that of a few. Hence regulation in the interest or the general good is justified.

From a moral standpoint, socialists argue that an individual character’s capitalist system encourages dishonesty and dishonesty and emphasizes material success judged interns of wealth. A socialist regime would create a more despicable type of character and a better standard of values. Instead of depending upon sell-interest as a spur to industrial activity, it would rely upon the love of activity for its own sake, the desire to contribute to the common good, the sense of duty in the performance of largely voluntary tasks, and the ambition to win social esteem through conspicuous social service.

Altruism rather than selfishness would dominate men’s actions, and harmonious development of character would result. Socialists argue that in the modern era, democracy has been applied only in the political field. They would extend it also to economic affairs. The fact that men have the right to vote is of little value if wide wealth differences give influence and power to a small class. Equality in property, they believe, is essential to equality in political rights; hence socialism is the economic complement of democracy.

Without discussing socialism’s economic fallacy in ascribing an undue share of production to labor alone, some of the practical objections to the system may be pointed out. The difficulties of administration would be enormous. Such questions as the apportionment of laborers among the various department of industry, the assignment of values to products and labor, the number of goods to be produced, the result proportion oi capital goods and consumers goods, and the distribution of income-all of which are now regulated, imperfectly to be sure, by the law of demand and supply-are complex problems whose artificial adjustment would require the administrative ability of the highest order. Socialists overestimate the capacity and efficiency of the state.

Experience shows that state action is slow and mechanical, lacking in initiative and in willingness to experiment. If the incentive of competition and the hope of reward were removed, improvements would be retarded. The individual initiative would be checked, and in the attempt to remove inequalities, there would be danger of reducing life to the dull uniformity of stagnation. Under state control, government managers would lack interest, production would diminish, and all would be reduced to a low level of poverty.

Serious dangers would arise because of the opportunities for corruption, intrigue, and personal spite in a socialist state. The connection between business and politics is the source of many evils in government strengthening that connection until they become practically identical would, under present moral conditions, scarcely tend toward improvement. Against bosses’ power, in a socialist state, there would be little possibility of resistance and little chance of fair play.

In opposition to the socialist claim that their system is democratic, their opponents argue that it inevitably results in despotism and dictatorship. A government exercising such wide Powers as socialism demands cannot remain under the people’s control tends to become bureaucratic and irresponsible. Under Socialism, society would be regimented and disciplined; individual freedom would disappear, a government with inquisitorial and despotic power would reduce the individual to virtual Slavery.

Socialists are inclined to be too optimistic in underrating the psychological obstacles to their plan. The ave-mm man is neither so inclined to work nor so zealous for the general welfare as Socialism demands. Neither is the sense of duty sufficiently developed, nor public opinion, on which social esteem must depend sufficiently discriminating to obviate the necessity for com impulsion. Opponents of socialism argue that its principle is run counter to human nature in expecting the able and industrious to share equally with the stupid and improvident. When humanity is perfected to the point that socialism demands, it will make little difference what form of organization is adopted.

It is unquestionably true that numerous social legislation reforms have been either the direct work of socialism in politics, the indirect results of its influence, or concessions to strength. Socialist political parties, of varying strength, have been formed in most modern states, and in some cases, control the government in Russia. A socialist experiment is being tried on a large scale.

All states today perform functions that are socialistic in character, and the tendency to widen the state’s activities in recent years has been marked. An impetus to this tendency was given by the two worlds Vars, which compelled the governments of the belligerent nations to operate or control many economic activities necessary to the war’s successful prosecution. Even in the United States, where the individualist theory of government has been most firmly indentured, sentiment in favor of state regulation has steadily grown.

Fear of strong government and belief in unrestrained competition has been replaced by recognizing the need for a well-equipped government with broad powers to regulate unfair competition and promote social efficiency and general welfare. In all democratic countries, the form of democracy is being filled out with social and industrial content to keep pace with modern life’s complex facts.

Recent Theories:

Since the beginning of the present century, several state organization and function theories, containing new and interesting principles, have been proposed and have been given some practical application in modern states. These doctrines represent a reaction against the principles of constitutional, representative democracy, which were dominant in the nineteenth century. They show the strong influence of recent philosophical ideas and the growing importance of economic interests.

All of them show the influence excreted by socialistic ideas during the past century and base their political organizations, wholly or in part, on the people’s occupational group. Some of them show anarchism doctrines and tend to minimize the political organization, deny its exclusive claim to sovereign power, or decent its organization. Others represent renewed confidence in a strong, centralized, national state. The Most important of these recent theories are:

1. Syndicalism:

Syndicalism, as a theory of social and political philosophy, is French in origin. It grew up due to a century of revolutionary conditions and political disillusionment and distrust of politicians. It also attained strength in Italy, where, as in France, small industries prevailed, and industrial development was relatively static in the United States. The Industrial worker of the world represented it.

As compared with conditions in England, labor unions in France and Italy were weak, loosely held together, and possessed small economic resources. They could not look forward to economic conditions improved through their existing strength; hence violent, and revolutionary methods seemed necessary.

Syndicalism combined the socialists’ economic doctrines, the political theory of anarchism that distrusted the state as the tool of capitalism, and the direct nonpolitical methods of the trade-unions. It rests upon a pragmatic philosophy.

It believes that organization and rational control prevent growth and that free activity should be encouraged. Self-help alone can bring progress; intuition, sentiment, and passion are safer guides than reason.

The syndicalists believe that the state arose to protect the dominant groups’ economic interests and that it supports privileges and class distinctions. It uses its armed force to put down strikes. It wages war to protect the economic interests of capitalists. In its internal functions, it perpetuates injustice and permits the exploitation of the worker. They believe that the sound at political authority is economic power and that popular sovereignty is impossible unless the workers control production.

They oppose all forms of political government, Will, and lawn, a noncoercive organization based on producing the immune of the economic society. Believing that law destroys individual initiative, they refuse active participation in polities, favoring direct economic action rather than political pressure.

They believe that the gradual disintegration of government is inevitable. As a class consciousness grows, a miss oi revolution will culminate in the final general strike that will authorize the state and secure the worker’s control of the major industries, which they will thenceforth own and operate.

Through their unions, they will exercise such general or political control as may be necessary. Meanwhile, they favor sabotage, which includes deliberate reduction of output, destruction of machinery and material, and poor work production.

While syndicalist theory is destructive rather than constructive, it gives some attention to the form of social organization that is desired. Local workers in a trade, organized into a syndicate will control that trade. Still, capital will be owned in common by all the syndicates, which are to be grouped into national federations according to trades. The various syndicates in a community will be affiliated through a local labor exchange, which will exercise judicial and police powers.

A national congress will be composed of delegates from the local labor exchanges and the national trade federations. The proposed system’s characteristic features are its extreme decentralization and the slight control which it is expected to exert. In its separation of towns along functional lines, it represents the pluralistic tendency in modem theory.

In its relaxation of control, it represents the movement toward anarchistic individualism. In its use of economic units as the basis of organization, it resembles guild socialism and the soviet system. Its ideal is economic federalism and workers’ control, the substitution of a proletarian for what is now considered a capitalist government.

2. Guild socialism:

Guild socialism, which has its chief strength in England, combines the state-ownership concept of the socialists and producer control urged by the syndicalists. It aims to separate political and economic functions. While syndicalism is concerned with producers’ interests only, guild socialism is interested in the welfare of both producers and consumers. In this theory, the workers, organized into occupational unions, or guilds, should control production work. The consumers, represented by the state, should own the means of production.

To this is added the pluralistic theory of sovereignty based upon function. Emphasizing consumer’s and producers’ diverse interests, guild socialist-s argue that it is impossible to secure adequate representation and influence for both in the political state’s parliaments as it is now organized. Believing that economic dominance finds its expression in political dominance, they View existing governments as democratic in form, but as controlled, in reality, by the capitalist classes. Guild socialists believe that industry, religion, education, and other essential activities should each have its own organization and control its own affairs and that the state should interfere only as a last resort, or should stand on a par with other natural groups, with final authority to adjust disputes resting in a body that represents all essential interests.

Like anarchism and syndicalism, guild socialism manifests a strong dislike of the state, especially in its control of economic interests. It opposes state socialism, perplexing that it would result in a bureaucratic and undemocratic system. It prefers to set up a decentralized organization, in which the state looks after such matters as public conduct, international relations education, and public health. Autonomous and cooperating occupational groups will determine hours and conditions of labor, wages, and prices. Thus, there will be established um major democracies, one economic, one Political, but nigher completely sovereign.

The state socialists believe that: a socialist system will be evolved out of the tendency to concentrate capital; the guild socialists believe that it will develop out of reorganized and more.

With the shop unit, powerful labor unions are an important basis of representation, and a national guild congress the supreme industrial body. From one point of View, guild socialism represents a reaction against the large-scale machine industry of the present day and the state. It looks back to the medieval period, with its small, decentralized handicraft industry, which developed the workers’ personality and made possible pride in artistry.

Guild socialists agree that control overproduction must be taken from the state and placed in economic groups’ hands. They also agree that the state, somewhat reorganized, perhaps, to correspond with natural regional divisions, must remain as one of the essential institutions performing certain services. On the relation of the state to the industrial organizations, they differ. Some would recognize the state’s ultimate sovereignty over the guilds, allowing it to adjust conflicts among the producer’s crafts and intervene in industrial affairs in exceptional cases when demanded by public interest.

Others believe that the state, as the supreme territorial association, represents the interests of consumers. In contrast, a congress of national guilds, the supreme occupational association, should represent producers’ interests. A federal adjustment should be made between these, with disputes settled by a body representing both producers and consumers. Under this system, the means of coercion, including the judiciary and the police, would be under the control of the coordinating body.

Guild socialists argue that the state should not possess industrial sovereignty and that the separation of governmental powers should be along functional lines. In the later writings of this group, there has been a tendency to shift emphasis from national to local adjustments between producers and consumers and favor the separate representation of the state’s various interests, thus replacing the state with a federation of natural associations.

While the guild socialists, in their effort to destroy the state’s monastic sovereignty, have not been able to define clearly the restrictive fields of the various social groups or make satisfactory provision for a superior coordinating authority to adjust conflicts among them, they have contributed ideas of value.

When increasing government control of industry, they mum a warning against the dangers of bureaucratic power and suggest possible methods of sell-engorgement in industry hey attack the tendency toward centralization in government, favoring local and regional autonomy. They propose modifications of representation, preferring functional and occupational representation to that of territorial population groups. Their interest in developing initiative and personality in the worker is also of fundamental importance in a democracy.

Guild socialism wishes to decentralize an omnipotent sovereign state’s powers to save the individual from institutional tyranny. In this process, it welcomes the aid of the various associations and communities that result from natural human interests. It attempts to devise social machinery that will adequately represent men’s various interests in a complex modern society.

Whether its plan would result in an anarchy of groups, or whether the great industrial organization would become a new form of the all-powerful sovereign, as remote from popular control and as autocratic as the state it would replace, is pertinent questions. The guild socialists really propose a reorganization of the state and redistribution of its powers, rather than the destruction of the state itself. The attempt to assign international affairs to the political government and control economic interests to the guilds seems impossible in a world where economic interests and international problems are closely related.

3. Communism:

The theory of communism is critical because of its practical application in present-day Russia and its attempts to extend this doctrine into other countries. It represents the extreme form of modern socialism. It teaches that control should be in the hands of the working classes but that such control cannot be gained by political action or peaceful means. Capitalists dominate the state through their control of economic power and the means of influencing public opinion.

Hence, it urges the workers to seize the state by revolution and use it as an agent to crush the remnant of capitalism. Through the dictatorship of the proletariat, a communist system is to be instituted. This is to be accomplished by debarring from voting or holding office all attached to the capitalist class, by using force to check any attempt to restore capitalism, by assigning to labor all former capitalists, by preventing any party of opposition and any criticism of communist doctrines, and by drilling the younger generation in the principles of communism.

By these means, class distinctions will be abolished, all will become workers, and the political state will wither away. Temporarily an organized minority may exercise control. Ultimately, the majority, organized along the lines of economic function and based on equality, will work according to their abilities and receive their services. The need for force is expected to disappear. Social control will be tested in the people regarded as a single producing and consuming class.

Communist theory substitutes the international for the national point of view, believing in the working people’s solidarity of interests in all nations. In practice, Russian policy is becoming increasingly nationalistic and militaristic.

The revolutionary leaders who established the soviet form of government in Russia believed that they were finally put into effect the principles laid down by Marx three-quarters of a century earlier, though they differed somewhat from the earlier theory as to the tactics to be used in securing control of government and industry during the transitional period.
They aimed to sum up the working class’s practical revolutionary experience, cleanse the movement of its admixtures of opportunism and social patriotism, and unite the forces o£ all the true revolutionary proletarian parties to further and hasten the complete victory of the communist revolution.
They placed chief reliance on a conscious, militant, revolutionary minority of the workers, especially in the city industries, organized into Soviets, councils, workers, peasants, and soldiers. These should forcibly seize authority, shatter the old political organization, establish a proletarian dictatorship, destroy the capitalist class, and guide the peasants and the middle class in the work of social and economic reconstruction.
The political institutions devised by the Bolshevists in 1918 were considered unsuitable for the Soviet State, which had been transformed by the five-year plans, the collectivization of agriculture, the liquidation of internal opposition, and the resumption of relations with the outside world.  Consequently, a new constitution was promulgated in 1936.
Under the new constitution, members of all Soviets are chosen by the electors based on universal, direct, and equal suffrage by secret ballot. The highest organ of state authority in the USSR is the Supreme Soviet, which consists of two chambers: the Soviet of the Union, elected based on one deputy for every 300,000 of the population, and the Soviet of Nationalities, elected based on twenty-five deputies from each Union Republic, eleven from each Autonomous Republic, five from each Autonomous Region, and one from each National Area.
The Supreme Soviet elects a Presidium, with a President and sixteen Vice Presidents, which is accountable to the Supreme Soviet for all its activities. The Supreme Soviet also appoints the U.S.S.R. government, namely the Council of People’s Communists, which consists of twenty-five Union Commissariats and fifteen Union-Republican Commissariats, also accountable to the Supreme Soviet of the USSR. In each Republic, a Supreme Soviet is chosen by the citizens to exercise the powers reserved to the Republics under the Constitution.
The Supreme Soviet of a Republic elects its own Presidium and Council of People’s Commissars. The local authority organ in each territory, region, autonomous region, area, district, city, and rural locality is a Soviet of Working People’s Deputies elected by the citizens of the respective area and presided over by an Executive Committee chosen by the Soviet itself. Justice is administered by the Supreme Court of the USSR and Supreme Courts of the republics and Regions, elected by their respective Soviets, and the People’s Courts, elected by the district’s citizens. Supreme Supervisory power over the strict execution of the law is vested in the Procurators of the USSR. And of the Republicans.

“Equality of rights of citizens of the U.S.S.R irrespective of their nationality or race, in all spheres of economic state, cultural, social and political life” is provided for in the fundamental laws. Like its predecessors, the new Soviet constitution does not apply the pineapple of separation of powers. Although the constitutions vests legislative power in the Supreme Soviets and executive power in the Governments, the “Governments” are appointed by and accountable and responsible to the Soviets.

The Soviet system more closely approximates the parliamentary form of government. However, one of the essential features of the parliamentary system- the executive’s resignation upon losing the legislature-has’ confidence not, as yet, been applied under the Soviet system, nor is the U.S.S.R. a truly federal system. Although the Republics are allowed to the U.S.S.R and the Overwhelming authority vested in the U.S.S.R makes federalism meaningless. Further centralization is achieved by the dominant position of the communist party in both spheres of authority.

4. Fascism:

A more recent state theory was the Fascist conception, which was developed by Italian writers and given practical application in the Italian Fascist state. Certain features of this doctrine later exerted considerable influence in neighboring states, especially Austria and Germany. The fascists attacked the liberal and democratic theories of the nineteenth century with their emphasis on equality and individualism and their belief that the purpose of the state is to promote its individual members’ welfare. The fascist theory was strongly influenced by the biological conception of organic unity and applied it to the state.

To Fascists, the state was more than a collection of individuals. It had a life and a unity of its own; its existence and ends were more important than those of its individual members. In case of conflict, the interests of the individual must be subordinated to those of the state. The fascist theory emphasized the historical development and the continued existence of the state. Its preservation, expansion, and improvement must receive first consideration.

The individual’s duty to the state, rather than the rights of the individual to freedom, was important. This emphasis on duty Was Considered the highest ethical value of Fascism. The necessity of sacrifice on the part of the individual in case of state need formed the justification for war, which the Fascists viewed as an eternal law of humanity.

Fascist theory closely approached the state’s transcendental conception as worked out by Hegel and the other German idealists. Some of its supporters even showed traces of the divine-right doctrine in their glorification of the state.

The Fascist ideal was a state-organized method to promote efficient, disciplined people producing to the maximum according to a program that corresponded to the national organism’s interests. It was the citizen’s duty to subordinate his interests to those of the state, and the tight at the state, if necessary, to compel him to do so.

Fascists rejected the theory of democracy and popular sovereignty. For them, the state, not the people, was the possessor of sovereignty. They had no confidence in the masses’ political ability or in the control of public opinion or a general will. They denied that the people have any inherent or inalienable right to determine the form of their government or take part in it or dictate its policies.

They believed that government should be in the hands of a few strong and able men, wisely selected and that the masses misled by schedules and demagogues are not competent to choose wisely. Hence the opposed parliamentary government is based on a wide electorate. Individuals should be called upon to take part in political life in proportion to the importance they assume in the state’s life and the form of grouping determined by considerations of state welfare. Fascists believed that the functional organization best secures this by the establishment of trade-unions. Employers associations, cooperative bodies, guilds, and the like, such as those proposed by the syndicalism theories and guild socialism.

Fascists repudiated the socialist doctrine of class struggle. In the Fascist state, capital and labor must cooperate, under compulsion if necessary, for the state’s good. This economic organization was imposed upon the people by the state and was used as a basis for the selection of representatives to a national legislative body. Fascist doctrine, however, placed chief emphasis on executive and administrative officials, which form the real government.

The legislative means we’re expected to advise and collaborate with the executive rather than rule the nation. Fascists agreed with communists that only one party should be tolerated in the state. That the leaders of the party should control the government, that criticism of its policies should not be permitted, and that the state should control the educational system and influence public Opinion to impress Fascist ideas upon the people, especially hum the coming generation.

Fascist theory combined the idea of social solidarity and public service, as urged by Duguit, with the syndicalist form of economic organization for maximum economic production. It justified using fear and force and used the pragmatic test of efficiency as the only useful standard. Work discipline, unity, and action were Fascist slogans.

Fascist theory opposed the internationalism doctrine and exalted the national state as an independent and organized unit, the natural result of historical growth. The highest form of state was one in which political unity coincided with ethnic and geographic unity and a historical tradition community. The duty of the state was to itself, not to the world as a whole. It must promote its strength and realize its legitimate national development.

If a vigorous and prolific state needs room for its people or needs raw materials that it can not produce, a policy of expansion was instituted. Hence Fascist theory tended to be militaristic and imperialistic, view war as sometimes necessary and desirable, emphasize the aspects of power and will in the state, and apply to State action ethical standards of conduct different from those that prevail among individuals.

Fascism derived many of its principles from earlier Italian writers. It looked back to St. Thomas Aquinas, who emphases the necessity of unity in the political field and pointed out the dangers of rule by the many and the advantages of rule by one.

It drew upon Vico’s ideas, who attacked the natural law philosophers of the eighteenth century and pointed out the value of history and experience, criticized democracy, subordinated private to public interests, and asserted that light was of no avail without force. It owed much to the pragmatic philosophy of B. Croce,t with his emphasis on the living force of history and his praise of great men of courage and daring. Fascists constantly appealed to the Roman tradition to stimulate national pride and patriotism.

Their doctrine incorporated Mazzini’s ideals with his emphasis on nationalism and the duty of sacrifice and his appeal to youth’s ardent ideals. Fascists had a special admiration for Machiavelli partly because he was an Italian and sought to promote Italian unity, partly because of his practical and realistic attitude toward politics and of his belief in the use of force and the value bf expansion, but especially because he gave such a high place to the state. Signor Rocco, one of the leading apologists of Fascism, says:

His writings, on inexhaustible mine of practical remarks and precious observations  reveal dominant in him the state idea, no longer abstract but to the full historical concreteness  of the national life. Machiavelli therefore to not only the greatest of modern political writers he is also the greatest of our contrary men in full possession of a national Italian Consciousness.

5. National Socialism:

Influenced somewhat by the Fascist doctrines of Italy, but mainly by various lines of thought already existing in Germany, the theory of National Socialism (Nazisn) was developed in Germany and put into opener during the Regine of Adolf Hitler he desires Germany o average her defeat in the First World War the weakness oi the Weimar Republic. The worldwide economic depression has the impetus to the new movement.

Nazi theory favored a totalitarian state in which every individual and association subordinated to national interest under a centralized government directed by a strong leader (Fisher). The economic system was planned by the state, with employment guaranteed and strikes forbidden. While the property was left mainly under private ownership control by its use and profit were extensive.

As Fascism looked back to Rome’s grandeur, Nazism revived the ancient tribal ideas of the Germanic peoples. It viewed Christianity, emphasizing humility and brotherly love, as a weak religion and favored the war goth of early Germanic myths. Especially hostile to the jews, Nazism taught the superiority of the Aryan Germans and their right to rule or to destroy inferior people.

Following the tribal doctrine of the blood bond, Germans, wherever they might live, were members of the German nation and owed allegiance to it. The need for living-room (Lebensmum) necessitated expansion. Small states had no rights, the military potter was essential, and the war was the supreme expression of the organic national state. Pacifism and internationalism were especially opposed.

The Nazi theory despised democracy, with its competing parties and legislative supremacy. It allowed only one party composed of the life, forbade criticism or opposition to the ruling group and emphasized executive control in a supreme dictator’s hands. Elections were held merely to register approval of the government’s candidates and policies, and laws were issued in the form of executive decrees.

By indoctrination of youth, elaborate propaganda, and control by well-organized police, it aimed to the unity of thought and unquestioning obedience. Women were relegated to inferiority and urged to bear children to add numbers to the superior rare and strengthen the state’s military power.

Certain differences and similarities may be noted in the theories of Communism and Fascism-Nazism. They are unlike in their attitude to private property, though both favor a state Planned economy. They differ in their attitude to women and inferior peoples. Communism favored equality of sex and races, and nationalities.

Fascism and Nazism look back to the history and ideas of their past communism at first ignored the past and began with the idea of a new order Both Nazism and communism, however, are distinctly hostile to religion and political democracy. The political organization of both is essentially similar, consisting of a strong executive head, a centralized governmental system, and a single party. Both utilize youth organizations, propaganda, and a police system to create unity of belief and enforce strict obedience.

While communism is essentially internationalist in its outlook, Fascism and Nazism are strongly nationalist in their perspective. In recent years, communism, as applied in the Soviet Union, has also become more nationalistic, more militaristic, and more imperialistic in its practices. The withering away oi the state, prophesied by Marx, is not in evidence,


These newer theories of state organization and function represent certain interesting and important tendencies in contemporary political thought. In some respects, they show striking contradictions. Some view the problem in its international aspects and would diminish the importance of separate and independent states in the interests of world unity. Others lay stress on the national state and oppose international organization or control.

Some would strengthen the control of the state internally. Others would destroy the state or weaken it by dividing its functions among offer forms of social organization. All of them show a reaction against the form of political democracy and territorial representation according to population, which was considered the great achievement of the nineteenth century.

Against this appears, on the one hand, Communist doctrines, which aim to further expand authority toward the goal of economic equality, and, on the other hand, Fascist doctrines, which are antidemocratic and aim at efficiency and rule by selected experts. All agree in organizing the state, to Some extent at least, along the lines of economic function and giving to the economic structure a large degree of control over society’s economic activities.

This suggests the most important aspect of recent theory: the struggle between economic and political power in the modem state. Church and state competed for supremacy in the medieval period, and that issue was settled when each found proper field. No such solution is possible in the present controversy since economics and politics cannot be separated, each constantly acting and reacting on the other. In their external relations, states use their political power to accomplish their economic aims, but political frontiers are not coterminous with economic frontiers, and confusion.

In its internal activities, the state cannot ignore the economic field since many of its aspects demand regulation, which only law can secure. The state properly intervenes to uphold social standards, to prevent exploitation and manifest injustice, to remove the needless hazards of the economic struggle, to assure and advance the general interest against the carelessness or selfishness of particular groups, to control monopolies so that the public may be protected against their exactions, to see that the pursuit of immediate gains does not jeopardize the future well-being of the country. The great internal struggles of modern states are concerned with the nature and extent of state control over the economic order.

Even less, can economic forces ignore the state? On the contrary, they are always exerting an influence upon their government. The nature and amount of taxes are important concerns of all economic classes. Economic interests that are unequal and opposed constantly appeal to the state for aid. Workers desiring better conditions of labor or shorter hours or higher wages, manufacturers desiring protective tariffs or protection against labor unions, consumers opposing monopoly prices all are anxious to control the government’s policy to secure their aims. The great cleavages in modern society are economical, and the political parties derive their vitality. The fact that the economic and political power centers do not coincide in modern states creates that Chief difficulty.

Democracy gives the working classes preponderant voting power, but it does not give them corresponding control over the country’s wealth. Consequently, there results, on the one hand, the effort of the workers to use their political power to secure equal distribution of wealth and! and the other hand, the effort of those in possession of economic power to control public opinion to dominate the government behind the scenes or to attack democracy and urge the efficient ale of a bureaucratic administrative state.

A recent development in political theory centers on attempts to combine political, economic power to hope that the function of political and economic interests will remove the conflict between them. To what extent this is possible or desirable is a much-disputed question. The present trend in that direction is, however, apparent.

The economic organization is being utilized to an increasing degree as a legal part of the governmental system in many states. Modem states have abandoned the theory of laissez-faire. They are using their political power to improve the masses’ conditions, establish minimum standards, and narrow the economic gap that separates the classes. If this process continues, the cleavage between capital and labor will be lessened, and the economic order will be more unified. What form the state will take in society’s new system is a question that only the future can answer.